Keeping your heart healthy is a choice. Most of the risks contributing towards cardiovascular disease are lifestyle related, otherwise known as modifiable risk factors.
Physical inactivity, being overweight, smoking, an unhealthy diet and high-stress levels can all contribute to creating one or more of the below risk factors. The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of developing a cardiovascular related disease.
Below I have highlighted the four main modifiable risk factors which contribute to cardiovascular related diseases, the risk they pose and also what actions you can take to prevent or reduce them.
RISK: According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) smokers are 2 x more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers.
Action: The best thing you can do for your heart is to stop, it’s never too late because your risk will start to reduce as soon as you stop.
RISK: To keep it simple cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your bloodstream. Too much cholesterol can block up your arteries, causing a reduced blood flow to your heart, leading to heart attacks, stroke or CHD. Inactivity, weight, diet and smoking can have a huge impact on whether you have normal or high amounts of cholesterol.
Action: Most of our cholesterol is made by our liver, which is essential for our bodies. However, cholesterol can also come from our diet, which is where we can create the risk of having too much bad cholesterol. Heart UK recommends that we eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables, pulses, fruit & nuts, and reduce the amount of trans-saturated fat within our diet which predominantly comes from processed foods such as cakes, biscuits and pre-packaged meals.
Raised Blood Pressure
RISK: Did you know that 7 million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed hypertension (raised blood pressure) according to a study carried out by the BHF. If your blood pressure reading is over 135/85mmHg, you are twice as more likely to have a heart attack as someone with a reading of 115/75mmHg (Blood Pressure UK).
Action: Be active*, the World Health Federation recommend 150 minutes /2 ½ hours of exercise per week can reduce your heart risk by 30%.
*If you have been diagnosed with raised blood pressure then speak to your coach, as they will ensure you exercise within a safe intensity.
RISK: Type I diabetes is commonly diagnosed in children and young adults. According to Diabetes UK 90% of the people with diabetes have Type II. Type II diabetes tends to develop later in life and is closely linked with being overweight, especially if you carry a high amount a visceral fat (weight around your middle) and inactivity. If diabetes is not controlled then the high levels of glucose in your blood can cause damage to the walls of your arteries, increasing your risk of heart related illness.
Action: Did you know that 3 in 5 cases of Type II diabetes are preventable through lifestyle intervention (Diabetes UK). We recommend that you try to keep to a healthy weight and reduce the amount of body fat you hold around your middle, this can be done via regular daily activity and eating a healthy balanced diet.
As you have probably noticed there is a trend going through this article; that with all these risk factors you can do something about them, through regular exercise and a healthy diet, both of which we can give you the support and guidance to achieve.
If you believe that you could be affecting your risk through your lifestyle choices, then I would recommend seeing a health professional to have a blood pressure, cholesterol & diabetes check. If you are between 40-74 then you may be eligible for a free health check with the NHS.
All of our perspective clients carry out a PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire) to highlight any pre-existing medical conditions you may have, or to highlight any potential risk, as well as finding out more about your lifestyle habits; exercise & nutrition. In addition, we will carry out a check on your basic health numbers; blood pressure and weight, as well as with our new Accuniq body composition analysis we can look further into the breakdown of your visceral fat levels.